Sunday, 8 April 2007


AUTHOR: C. J. Sansom


DATE READ: April 2007

NOTES: In 1537 Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, is sent by Thomas Cromwell to investigate the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery on the south coast of England. Shardlake and his companion Mark at first make little progress in solving the crime and they are unsure who among the monks and their servants can be trusted. Other murders occur during their stay as well as an attempt on Shardlake’s life.

The tension of the times is brilliantly portrayed. There are few clear heroes or villains but instead there is a rich mixture of lazy, corrupt monks, greedy local officials and avaricious politicians and nobles plotting to take over the church’s land and property. Time is given to discuss the religious and political questions of the time and Shardlake begins to question his own place is Tudor society as he begins to realise that things he has accepted as true (such as the guilt of Mark Seaton as a lover of Ann Boleyn) have been concocted as a deliberate device to please the king.

(I wanted to know more about Brother Guy, a Moorish physician – hope he reappears in later books!)

A great historical crime novel – super atmosphere, good characterisations and a cracking story.

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